Voice assistant gadgets such as Alexa or Google Home are well on their way to mainstream ubiquity: Nearly 25 million are expected to ship this year, and by 2020 that figure is expected to swell to 60 million. Yet as Mladen Barbaric, the founder of Instrumments, sees it, the market’s still plagued by a problem. “Technology should be invisible,” he says, calling the prospect of adding yet another gadget to your home the “geek approach.” So instead, Instrumments created Ollie, a brushed-aluminum lamp with either Alexa or Google Home built in and a wireless charging station built into the base. It goes up for pre-sale today on Indiegogo, at prices starting at $89 for a table lamp with wireless charging, and the same price for a floor lamp without it.
When Amazon and Google opened up their voice-assistant platforms, they surely expected gadgets such as Ollie. But Barbaric points out that lamps in particular make sense, because they happen to already be placed at the side of the couch or the bed, or in a near corner of the room—perfect conversational distance for a voice assistant. Moreover, they’re typically right next to the charging cords for your phone. So it makes sense to combine them all into one.
Instrumments is actually an offshoot of Barbaric’s design firm, Pearl, which is best known for the Misfit Shine, the slickest of the first-generation fitness trackers. Last year, the company unveiled the 01 Dimensioning Instrument, a smart pen that ingeniously lets you measure anything and load those measurements into the cloud. The bulk of the expertise used to create Ollie lies in figuring out a way to manufacturing something with a high-quality feel but that’s nonetheless almost as inexpensive as Ikea. The company has its eye on still more gadgets; Ollie is meant to be a cost-effective gateway for a growing IoT ecosystem that the company will unveil next year.
Barbaric won’t say what those other gadgets are, but he does offer clues. As he points out, there’s still a gap between the dimensions of the stuff in our lives—for example, how big our living room is, or how wide our counters are—and the stuff we buy online, all of which comes with measurements on the product pages. Instrumment’s next gadget will thus be something involving AR that will help take the measure of your home.
“I can’t tell you completely how it connects back to the pen and Ollie, but we noticed that a lot of people are asking us how to solve issues about custom sizing and shipping to the home as things shift online,” Barbaric says. “We’re making some breakthroughs. Once we release those lines product lines, you’ll see very clearly how it all connects.”